I Just Now: Started a Campaign

Well, since reviewing albums is showing me more down sides than good sides, I’m decided to broad up a bit and start a whole new series called “I Just Now”. It’s pretty basic: I can talk about everything as I just do stuff. It’s basically an excuse for reviewing anything I damn want at the time, or just talk a bit about what I’ve been up to. So, since I just now started a RPG campaign, I’m going to talk a little about it.

The system used is the 4e D&D. It’s a pretty basic system that allows a lot of adventuring… in a medieval setting. Don’t get me wrong: I’m all up for variety regardless of system used, I know that “a skillful DM can use any setting for anything”, but I’m not a skillful DM and I liked the system overall. I remember playing with the AD&D system and getting pissed off by the simplest things, like the calculation for hitting, if I recall correctly, was overcomplicated, and the overall rules really forced the group to play the setting that it proposed… or at least that’s what it looks like from my perspective when I was thirteen. A bit older I was in contact with the third edition (also known as the D20 system) and the combat was also complicated, but then again, I always had some issues with combats in general… and I can see how that’s pretty strange, since most adventures focus on battles. The 4e facilitates in a lot of things, giving specific roles to each class and more simplistic battle, and as the game suggests using a battle grid, a lot more visual.

The setting was a creation of my own. I wanted to play a bit with the Norse mythology, since I once saw a monster sheet for the Yggdrasil, elder timber dragon, and I wanted to make players battle that. Or at least have a dialog with that, since it’s so overpowered that it’s almost funny. The world map is sort of realistic in a way: it’s all of Europe, Greenland and the Russian part of Asia, surrounded by sea. It accentuates the whole icy feel that the Nordics were used to live with, but at the same time expands the ground and simplify a lot of shit I didn’t want to get into. Like… I don’t have the slightest clue of what was going on in India during the Nordics age of conquering other people, so why include it?

I also made some changes in the system. The part that brought some arguments between the players is that I didn’t want to have any Arcane magic. So, since day one, Wizard and Warlock were not optional, and from PH2 and PH3, just Barbarian and Monk were possible, since most of the others brought something miraculous to the table (and I hate the psionic set of abilities since the first time I read that word; Monk didn’t abuse it all that much). Divine was still on the table (heck, I even heavily suggested that there were a cleric and a paladin on the group, since they could be clerics of Thor and Paladins of Odin!)… And speaking of which, down with those (lame) gods of the original setting, up with the Norse ones. It was troublesome to come up with some substitutions to the original gods in the book, but after a day’s work, it finished up nicely. Also, no monsters. All enemies are homebrewed and they are mostly deviant humans (thieves, cultists… you know the drill).

The group, with me as the DM, is composed by Hilda and Virna, both archer styled rangers, Thorvald, a Thor cleric, and… Sigismundo, the Lofn Paladin. As I started, I asked for a little background from each one. Hilda and Virna are cousins and wanted to start adventuring for mostly the same reason: know more about the world. Thorvald is a Thor cleric, that since born was chose to be that way. He wanted to start adventure to right all the wrongs in the world and fulfill a prophecy that his family had. You see, three very simple backgrounds. However, the player behind Sigismundo is one of those guys. Recently, I read on the DM’s Guide that “Some Abilities can heal only when attacking an opponent, so a player can get no benefit from wandering around with a bag of rats”. Sigismundo is one of those guys… but in a good way. He is a whole lot of fun while destroying everything I hold dear in my heart.

His background is as follow: Sigismundo was born after a Lofn celebration of fertilization, since Lofn (in my setting) is the goddess of love. This celebration consists in a pair number of mature people (half men and half women) meeting in a pair by pair orgy. These couples are pre-selected, but they all have sex in the same room under the eye of the older clerics while they try to avoid… confusions between the pairs, thereby avoiding extra-conjugal affairs, if you can call it that. If a couple fails to conceive, they both are sacrificed to calm the goddess, since that’s a sign of lack of love. Sigismundo was born by that, and since he was the 19th kid to be born, his name was the first one in a list of names starting with S, therefor Sigismundo (I’m dead serious, he said that to me seriously). After the 26th one, they restart from A, but using the second name of each list. Sigismundo was raised as a Paladin of the order, however is in eternal search for love. He is waiting for a sign of the goddess pointing out he should marry… so that’s why he’s adventuring.

Most of the group has a really light sense of humor. The girls are not exactly that hard to get into the story, the player behind Thorvald (from now on I will call them by their characters name) is a more experienced player in the system (since this is my first time DMing with it). Sigismundo, the character, is not very bright, so he will be often the butt of the joke, sometimes even being that way for gags, which I don’t usually reprimand. However, in the first session, he had to be absent, so in the first day adventuring, he wasn’t present.

It started out in the capital of the modern world, Byenville, in the same place as Berlin. As I’m not exactly good with intros, they were in a tavern eating a chicken (Hilda asked: “is there something upon the table?” and all I could think of is “Yes… there is chicken”) when a bar fight began, between a somewhat well-dressed young man and a bum. The cleric tried to separate it while the girls… observed from a distance, and after the fight, they all recognized the bum as a mythical legend of the city, Guerino, the Sól Paladin. He lost his hand in an adventure and spent all his money in booze ever since, since more and more of his powers faded away together with his hopes. The players asked if they could anything, and the answer was simply enough “Well… no… but I just received a message that I earned an inheritance from my departed grandfather, and it’s away in a two day travel… bothersome… I’m thinking of going there to claim it, but then again, it’s long and I’m not really apt for an adventure”. Hook acknowledged, they decided to go with him. However, while they were leaving city gates, they were “ambushed” by the worst thieves ever.

Since I’m never too well prepared for a fight, I decided to take it easy with some of the worst thieves ever. They did not surprise attack; they came out of boulder, presented themselves and then started out the battle. The battle was pretty straight-forward, with not exactly any hassle whatsoever, as it was a pretty weak 1st level encounter. One of the thieves (of the original 6) was only left unconscious, and tied up in case of running off. As they sat a while in hopes of resting for a bit, the Paladin decided to look around for more threats, when he found a house, probably a rest place for the thieves. The whole group came after him while they searched the house (the guy still tied up back there). After they heard a muffled scream, they could see that there was a fake wall, and after breaking the wooden down, they found out it was a kid tied up. After untying him, Guerino recognized him as the son of the librarian and after not discovering why he was kidnapped in the first place, Virna decided to go wake up the guy that was tied up.

Virna, while not exactly the brains of the group, had a strong common sense… so as she slapped the guy around in order to make him wake up, I had to remind her over and over that unconscious guys don’t work that way. She even tried healing her with a skill check… however, she was only able to heal the bruises made on the battle, but the guy was still unconscious. And when she decided to piss on him… I lost some of my faith. However, after thinking of the right thing to do, she asked for Hilda’s help to carry the body to the thieves’ house and ask the cleric to heal him waked. After doing so, he finally woke up, to reveal that the kid was going to be used in exchange for a companion that was kidnapped by a group of cultist, for sacrificial matters. Thorvald, bound with duty, had to convince Virna to go to the cult place before getting any reward they could with the inheritance. Hilda worked as the tie-breaker, and they decided to go the cult. As Guerino offered himself to bring the kid back to his parents, the group felt it would be safer if they went back together, since they could rent a carriage, or horses.

Thorvald is piss poor. He spent everything he had to buy his equipment, being left with only 7 silver pieces, in opposed to the 100 gold pieces I gave them in the start for shopping. So, even with the money all combined, they couldn’t afford horses for everyone, and when lifted in the air the idea that any of the girls would pay for the cleric’s horse, they said something in the lines of “he’s young, he can handle the trip”, while he rebutted with “who’s gonna cure your asses when you get there?”. After some brainstorming, they decided to go a nearby temple to ask for horses, in order to terminate the cult activity. A cleric offered them 4 so-so horses, and they were off. Guerino was called off, since he was sort of useless in the battle, as he was in the battle with the thieves.

Since Hilda had a schedule, we had to end the group there and next Saturday, there will be more. Maybe I’ll even keep posting to keep a record of what happened, who knows?

Glossary:

D&D: Dungeons and Dragons. Created in 1974 by Gary Gygax and David Arneson, it was a game to give rules and some sort of organization to the simple game of “fantasizing”. So, instead of going into the old argument of “my bullet hit you in the heart” and “no, it didn’t, it bounced off my laser shield”, we just roll a die, and see if it was really a hit or just bounced off a laser shield. Even though technically that’s what it is now, it started out as a tabletop wargame.

D&D 4e: Officially released in June 2008, it’s one of the various D&D editions across the years and although heavily criticized for not being open licensed like D&D3e, is pretty simpler and at some time, more epic. It presents a huge array of supplements and additions and is pretty simple enough for you to start rolling with a minimum knowledge. If you are willing to, go check Dungeons & Dragons Essentials. It has even more simplified rules, created for the beginners, with simpler rules.

AD&D: One of the variants of the original D&D system, it still has a wild array of fans, since it wasn’t meant to replace, but to take the action into a more detailed fashion. D&D was still alive decades after AD&D was released, although AD&D was considerably luckier in supplements and additions.

D&D3: Coming to replace AD&D, the third edition was considered to some revolutionary, since it allowed for more tabletop adventuring (if it was what you wanted) and a more easy way to track your evolution as a character, even being able to achieve high levels quickly, in opposition to the slow pacing of the AD&D games in general.

Open Game License: With this license, pretty much everyone can publish an adventure following their rules without notifying Wizard of the Coast, publisher of the core books. It was a huge improvement, since the amount of games made to fit in the D&D 3e rules is huge. I don’t know exactly why they didn’t follow up on the 4th edition, but I’m guessing “money” may be the main reason.

PH: Player’s Handbook. Basically, the core book presented to the player so that he can make a character and play D&D. If you want to DM (Dungeon Master, the guy who makes the world), you’re probably better off having the DM’s Guide and the Monster’s Manual, but I guess with only the Player’s Handbook, you can try to do some adventuring… it will be hard, though. Never said it’s a cheap hobby.

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